Ever since Sputnik, we have been locked in a space race with the Russians. With the end of the Soviet era the relationship has evolved into a collaborative one, albeit with strong competitive underpinnings. With the building of the International Space Station, the strains in the alliance are beginning to show. This volume is a detailed, investigative history of the U.S.-Russian space relationship from a long-time NASA insider turned commentator. Oberg describes, from the points of view of key individuals both inside and outside the program, the strengths and weaknesses that each side has brought to the partnership, the original hopes and promises for its benefits, and its triumphs and dissappointments. Proficient in Russian and a frequent visitor to that country, Oberg reveals for the first time the extent of the greed, corruption, and covered-up setbacks that have marked the devolution of the Soviet space program to its recent virtual collapse. He covers the U.S.-Mir venture, and NASA's reluctance to learn from its lessons. Ultimately, Oberg examines the prospects for the International Space Station, a project that he believes was begun with good intentions, but is in danger of running aground. With the Russians unable (or unwilling) to build their pieces of the station, NASA must assume more and more responsibility for it in an era when their ",faster, cheaper, better", philosophy is already wearing very thin. Recent losses such as the Mars Observer are nothing compared to the disasters that could befall a cheaply built space station. This is a story told with a balanced perspective. Oberg has extensive contacts within NASA and is considered a leading expert in the Russian space prgram. While he is still enthusiastic about many of NASA's goals, he is also able to take an informed critical stance on the space program's shortcomings. ",Star-Crossed Orbits", is full of the technology and space lore that space buffs love, but it also contains colorful characters, political intrigue and timely discussion of international space issues, making it an appealing book for the general reader.
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